We Put A Whole Fleet Of Heaven Hill Whiskeys To A Blind Taste Test

Heaven Hill is one of the most iconic distilleries in America. Its Bardstown, Kentucky campus produces some true classics: Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Old Fitzgerald, and Parker’s Heritage only scratch the surface. As with all major distilleries, though, not all of their whiskeys are of the same caliber and not all of them are going to be for everyone. Palates ebb and flow just like cultural tastes (and everyone has different standards — both financially and taste-wise.

To help sort through the brands and whiskeys from Heaven Hill, I’m pulling every single Heaven Hill bottle off my shelf and blindly tasting them. Then I’m going to rank them according to which ones I liked the most. I could ask the silly question, “Will the big names get overshadowed by the everyday pours?” But I mean… come on. Sure, anything can happen but the good stuff is the good stuff for a reason, folks.

Instead, I want to explore how similar it all really is and where the differences actually are between these bourbons, ryes, and wheat whiskeys.

Our lineup today is a massive 17 pours (judging at the SFWSC has me in game shape!):

  • Larceny Barrel Proof A121
  • Five Brothers
  • Evan Williams Small Batch 1783
  • Heaven Hill Heritage Collection 17-year
  • Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 8-Year Spring 2021
  • Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A121
  • Larceny Barrel Proof B521
  • Parker’s Heritage 15th Edition Heavy Char Wheat Whiskey 11-Year
  • Evan Williams Single Barrel 2011
  • Rittenhouse Rye
  • Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond
  • Elijah Craig Barrel Proof C921
  • Larceny Barrel Proof B522
  • Evan Williams Green Label
  • Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 17-Year Spring 2022
  • Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A122
  • Larceny Barrel Proof A122

Let’s get into it!

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of The Last Six Months

The Ranking

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

17. Evan Williams Green Label — Taste 14

Heaven Hill

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $11

The Whiskey:

This is Heaven Hill’s signature bourbon mash bill with a touch of rye: 78 percent corn, 12 percent malted barley, and ten percent rye. That mash is the same for their much-beloved Elijah Craig and Henry McKenna labels. This juice is aged for four years before it’s proofed all the way down to 40 proof with soft limestone water.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

“Ah, this is some cheap shit right here.”

The nose is barely present with a note of tap water leading to the idea of caramel, cherry, and “wood.” The palate certainly has those flavor notes and adds in more refined whispers of nutmeg, dry reeds, caramels, and cherry cough drops with a vanilla echo. Ultimately, this is washed out by the tap waterproofing on the end.

Bottom Line:

I guess I’d mix this with some Coke or ginger ale to get a buzz on but not much else. In reality, just skip this and buy Evan Black or White label instead, they’re vastly superior.

16. Five Brothers Small Batch Bourbon — Taste 2

Heaven Hill

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $158

The Whiskey:

This new bourbon from Heaven Hill celebrates the five brothers who started the distillery back in 1935. The bottle was released to celebrate the new visitor’s center at Heaven Hill and is largely only available there. The juice in this bottle is a blend of five bourbons of varying ages between five and nine years old made with Heaven Hill’s bourbon mash bill of 78 percent corn, 12 percent malted barley, and ten percent rye.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

The nose on this one is sweet and thin, it takes a while to find hints of popcorn, maple, and vanilla. The palate has a pecan waffle vibe with plenty of syrup that leads to cherry candies and a thin layer of cinnamon spice and vanilla extract. There’s a dry reed feel on the end with more of that proofing water thinning things out on the finish.

Bottom Line:

This was fine. It feels like something I’d likely mix into a highball more than anything else. For the price, that makes it… sort of a catastrophe.

15. Rittenhouse Bottled-in-Bond Rye — Taste 10

Heaven Hill

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $29

The Whiskey:

This rye is very much a bourbon drinker’s rye. The mash bill is only 51 percent rye with 37 percent corn, and 12 percent malted barley. The juice then matures under the federal regulations allowing it to be “bottled-in-bond” and is barely proofed down to 100 proof with that soft Kentucky limestone water before bottling.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

There’s a note of that fake raspberry flavoring a Slushie from 7-Eleven has on the nose next to a dried herbal vibe. The palate has a little bit of toffee and squash with a hint of cinnamon and dark chocolate. The finish has a bit of winter spice, vanilla extract, and light tobacco chew.

Bottom Line:

This was a bit of a shrug. It wasn’t as washed out as the two expressions above it in this ranking but nothing really to write home about.

14. Evan Williams Single Barrel 2011 — Taste 9

Heaven Hill

ABV: 43.3%

Average Price: $29

The Whiskey:

This is Heaven Hill’s hand-selected single barrel Evan Williams expression. The juice is from a single barrel, labeled with its distillation year, proofed just above 43 proof, and bottled as is.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

Classic, classic, classic. The nose and palate both deliver on cherry, vanilla, oak, and caramel with a thinner base, but it’s not washed out. The palate does dial in those notes pretty well with nutmeg and cinnamon spice next to creamy vanilla, cherry candy, and a hint of cedar and tobacco on the back end.

Bottom Line:

This was very much, “Hey, that’s pretty good.” You could tell immediately that it was a cheaper whiskey but the flavor profile was very present and not washed out by proofing water. Overall, it felt like an easy sipper for when you really don’t want to think about what you’re drinking.

Solid value!

14. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof C921 — Taste 12

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof C921
Heaven Hill

ABV: 60.1%

Average Price: $120

The Whiskey:

This was the last Elijah Craig Barrel Proof of 2021. The whiskey is built from Heaven Hill’s iconic 78 percent bourbon mash bill. The barrels spend up to 12 years resting before they’re picked and vatted for this release.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

This is kind of … sour with an old and musty oak vibe next to a little nutmeg and allspice, some cherry tobacco, and some used vanilla pods. The palate has a butterscotch sweetness that leads to a high-proof buzz accompanied by old cedar, winter spice, a hint of pepper, and more vanilla. The end is part toffee and part of that funky wood from the nose with tobacco-stained cedar boxes, vanilla cream, and holiday spices rounding out the finish.

Bottom Line:

This was “fine.” It was a little funky for me … it just didn’t track on my palate. I need to spend a little more time with this and maybe I’ll find more to it. For now, it’s just fine but kind of un-memorable, which for the price is… not wonderful.

13. Evan Williams Small Batch 1783 — Taste 3

Heaven Hill

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $16

The Whiskey:

This is Evan William’s small-batch bourbon reissue. The expression is a marriage of 200 barrels of Heaven Hill’s classic bourbon (78 percent corn, 12 percent malted barley, and ten percent rye). That juice is vatted, then proofed down to 90 proof (instead of the old 86 proof), and bottled as-is.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

This is another classic with a caramel/vanilla/cherry/oak nose with a hint of leather lurking in the background. The palate has a little bit of cornbread with a melting butter vibe next to plenty of cherry and caramel candy, a touch of old leather, cedar box, and spicy tobacco. The end fades pretty quickly and is a little washed out by the proofing water but still delivers a bit of creamy honey, vanilla, nutmeg, and grilled pancake with a hint of tobacco.

Bottom Line:

It’s amazing how far some of these old favorites fall when tasted against some true bangers. That said, this was fine. I’d use it for a cocktail in a heartbeat.

12. Larceny Barrel Proof B521 — Taste 7

Heaven Hill

ABV: 60.5%

Average Price: $128

The Whiskey:

This spring small batch of wheated bourbon is derived from barrels between six and eight years old. The juice then goes right into the bottle with no cutting or filtering, allowing the masterful craft to shine through in every sip.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

There’s a feeling of cinnamon sticks dipped into woody maple syrup with hints of dried florals, old apples, worn leathers, and maybe a little vanilla cupcake on the nose. The palate is all about the Christmas cake — nuts, candied and dried fruit, dark spices, brown sugar — that’s countered by brandy butter and walnut shells. The end has a touch of high-proof warmth next to vanilla tobacco and cedar.

Bottom Line:

This was about halfway through the tasting and I was stretching to find unique notes. This was bold and perfectly fine but not as exciting as it could be. It feels like a great cocktail whiskey though. (Only you know whether or not $128/ bottle is too much for cocktail whiskey.)

10. Larceny Barrel Proof A121 — Taste 1

Heaven Hill

ABV: 57.4%

Average Price: $192

The Whiskey:

The wheated juice for this blend spends six to eight years maturing in Heaven Hill’s vast warehouses. It’s then small-batch blended and bottled with zero fussing at barrel proof three times a year with a little variation each time.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

There’s a soft caramel candy on the nose with a hint of pumpkin pie, holiday spices, and sweet vanilla cream. The palate is very classic with plenty of vanilla, woody spice, a little maple syrup, and a good rush of cherry candy near the end. The finish marries that cherry to a spicy Red Hot vibe and a bit of warm tobacco chewiness.

Bottom Line:

This was a good place to start. I really like this. The ABVs don’t overpower anything and it’s pleasant. Still, it’s just sort of classic bourbon and not much else. And two bills is pretty pricey for “classic bourbon.”

9. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A121 — Taste 6

Heaven Hill

ABV: 61.8%

Average Price: $148

The Whiskey:

The whiskey in this bottle is generally at least 12 years old and bottled with no cutting down to proof or filtration whatsoever. This expression is all about finding the best barrels in the Heaven Hill warehouses and letting that whiskey shine on its own.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

This opens with a mix of dark berries — brambles, soil, and all — next to sticky toffee pudding spices and fruitiness with a hint of vanilla ice cream and old leathery tobacco pouches. The taste is very creamy with hints of sweet yet tart red berries next to a dusting of nutmeg and allspice leading to cherry tobacco on the mid-palate. The end leans into the high-proof, buzzing mouthfeel with sweet cherry/raspberry/blackberry and woody tobacco finish.

Bottom Line:

“Nice and soft” were my main notes on this one. This feels like a nice summer sipper thanks to the berry vibe. It’s also pretty middle of the road for this flight of whiskeys.

8. Larceny Barrel Proof B522 — Taste 13

Larceny Barrel Proof B522
Heaven Hill

ABV: 61.9%

Average Price: $59 (MSRP)

The Whiskey:

The second batch of Larceny Barrel Proof of 2022 is batched from barrels of Heaven Hill’s iconic wheated bourbon (68 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, and 12 percent malted barley). Those barrels are chosen for their specific flavor profile and blended as-is and bottled at barrel proof.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

At first whiff, this was very “classic” and then these subtle hints of red berries, soft caramel candies, old yet soft leather, raw pancake batter, and cedar sneaked in. The palate immediately coats your mouth with a warm buzz that leads to sweetgrass, minced meat pies, salted caramel, and Black Forest Cake with more vanilla than chocolate. There’s a soft landing that’d full of cherry jam and vanilla pudding with a hint of spicy tobacco and old oak staves.

Bottom Line:

This tasting has really been a roller coaster. This was stuck between two glasses on either side of it that were drastically different. That likely helped it shine a bit brighter, but I’d argue this is a pretty solid dram and the start of where things get interesting on this list. A great value pick!

7. Larceny Barrel Proof A122 — Taste 17

Larceny Barrel Proof A122
Heaven Hill

ABV: 62.2%

Average Price: $150

The Whiskey:

The juice in the barrel is made from Heaven Hill’s classic wheated mash bill. The whiskey in the bottle is a blend of six to eight-year-old barrels that are vatted and bottled at cask strength as-is. It’s as easy as that, folks.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

This is pretty interesting with a nose full of old cedar beams and river rock with a hint of salt, waffles smothered in brown butter and maple syrup, a little orange peel, and fresh cinnamon doughnuts. The palate delivers on those notes and adds in almonds and walnuts with dried fruits, winter spices, and savory figs. The mid-palate leans into the leathery dried dark fruits as dry sweetgrass and dark chocolate-covered hazelnuts mix with vanilla pipe tobacco and cedar planks. The finish has a light warmth that creates a mouth buzz with silky yet dry sweetgrass and nuttiness.

Bottom Line:

This is pretty damn good. The heat at the end washes it out a little but the flavor notes do hold on. In the end, I really want to make a Manhattan with this at Christmas.

6. Heaven Hill 7-Year Bottled-in-Bond — Taste 11

Heaven Hill

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $40

The Whiskey:

This expression has been a touchstone bottled-in-bond since 1939 and remains a go-to for many bourbon lovers. The juice is the classic Heaven Hill bourbon mash bill that’s left to age for an extra three years compared to Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

The nose draws you in with this rich and creamy vanilla ice cream (you know the kind that’s likely labeled “Tahitian”) that’s drizzled with a buttery and salty caramel sauce next to soft leather and dried apple blossoms with a hint of old cedar bark braids. A floral honey vibe melds with Graham Crackers on the palate as creamy toffee covered in crushed almonds mingles with vanilla-laced pipe tobacco and old leather-bound books. There’s a bit of freshly ground nutmeg near the end that leads to a light cherry tobacco note with whispers of old cellar beams and winter spices on the finish.

Bottom Line:

This was really f*cking good. If I had been guessing these, I likely would have pegged this as an Old Fitz … and been amazed to find out that it wasn’t. This is just solid all around and something I really need more of in my life. A truly amazing value bottle of bourbon.

5. Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 8-Year Spring 2021 — Taste 5

Heaven Hill

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $640

The Whiskey:

This year’s spring release is a marriage of eight-year-old whiskeys produced in the spring of 2013. That distilled juice rested in barrels spread throughout three warehouses on several different floors. In spring of this year, those barrels were vatted and whiskey was proofed down to 100 (per bottled-in-bond law). Then the whiskey was filled into Old Fitzgerald’s signature decanters and sent out into the world.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

Bottom Line:

This was one of my favorite pours of 2021 yet here it is at fifth! Palates evolve as more whiskey hit the ol’ tongue and new bottles are released that take you in new directions.

All of that said, this is pretty goddamn stellar. It’s pretty much a perfect sipping whiskey.

4. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A122 — Taste 16

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof A122
Heaven Hill

ABV: 60.4%

Average Price: $130

The Whiskey:

This year’s first drop is a 12-year-old whiskey made from Heaven Hill’s classic bourbon mash of 78 percent corn, 12 percent malted barley, and a mere ten percent rye. Those barrels are masterfully blended into this Barrel Proof expression with no cutting or fussing. This is as-is bourbon from the barrel.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

This is a “classic” in the best possible way. The nose is this dailed in a mix of sourdough cinnamon rolls drizzled with vanilla sugar sauce and salty caramel next to floral honey, vanilla candle wax, and a hint of old aftershave straight off the drug store shelf. The taste has a sugar pie note with vanilla and cinnamon sauce over the top, hints of old leather, and a braid of dried sweetgrass coiled into an old cedar box. There’s creamy eggnog with plenty of nutmeg near the end as a hint of Hostess Apple Pie comes into play with that sweetgrass/cedar vibe on the very end.

Bottom Line:

More of this, please. This was a delight, and probably one of the best Elijah Craig Barrel Proofs to date.

3. Heaven Hill Heritage Collection 17-Year-Old Barrel Proof Bourbon, First Edition — Taste 4

Heaven Hill Heritage Collection Bourbon Whiskey
Heaven Hill

ABV: 59.1%

Average Price: $3,200

The Whiskey:

The base of the spirit is Heaven Hill’s classic bourbon 78 percent corn mash bill. This particular whiskey is built from several barrels from four warehouse campuses in the Bardstown area. In this case, the whiskey is made from 28 percent 20-year-old barrels, 44 percent 19-year-old barrels, and 28 percent 17-year-old barrels. Once those barrels are vatted, the bourbon goes into the bottle as-is, without any cutting or fussing.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

This opens with a matrix of maple syrup pecans touched with flakes of salt next to spicy cherry tobacco jammed into an old cedar box that’s got a little cobweb vibe next to soft nutmeg, dried roses pressed in an old bible, and a creamy but almost burnt buttery toffee. The palate has a high-proof mouthfeel with a buzzing layer coating your mouth but it’s not hot, it’s more Christmas cake-flavored chewing tobacco with notes of cherry cobbler dancing with creamy eggnog and velvety-soft suede that’s imbued with decades of coffee and cigars next to old humidors. The finish mingles cherry tobacco with sticky toffee pudding with pure silk.

Bottom Line:

This was only taste number four and I wanted to pack it in. This was in a different dimension than numbers 17 through four on this ranking. I didn’t think anything could beat this… Yet.

2. Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 17-Year Spring 2022 — Taste 15

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 17
Heaven Hill

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $1,275

The Whiskey:

This wheated bourbon whiskey — 68 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, and 12 percent malted barley — was distilled and laid down in barrels back in 2004. The barrels were vatted after 17 years and proofed down to the bottled-in-bond standard of 100 proof and then bottled in the iconic Old Fitz decanter for a Spring 2022 release.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with a fresh batch of yeasty doughnuts stuffed with a spicy blackberry filling next to these lovely layers of dried roses in old books, burnt orange oils, rich and oily vanilla pods, freshly chopped cedar kindling, and a stick of rock candy. The palate leans into charred cherrywood, lush vanilla creaminess, and a whole sticky toffee pudding with black-tea-soaked dates and heaping spoons of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. The mid-palate veers into cherry lozenges with a hint of cinnamon next to supple pipe tobacco, a hint of old boot leather, and a very old cedar cigar box.

Bottom Line:

I was still two tastes from the end but nearly walked away right here. This was such a high point that I wanted to end on it. This is a perfect bourbon but the next entry had a tiny bit more going on that grabbed my attention today.

1. Parker’s Heritage 15th Edition Heavy Char Wheat Whiskey 11-Year — Taste 8

Heaven Hill

ABV: 62%

Average Price: $1,154

The Whiskey:

This year’s release is a wheat whiskey that’s small-batched from 75 barrels with a heavy char. The juice in those barrels is a mash of 51 percent wheat, 37 percent corn, and 12 percent barley. The whiskey was matured on the sixth floor of Rickhouse Y for eleven long years before batching and bottling as is.

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

Blind Tasting Notes:

This has a note of butter crisped pancake edge to the nose that’s brilliant. That nose is supported by notes of fresh woodruff, fresh peanut brittle dusted with nutmeg and clove, creamed honey, powdered ginger, and vanilla-soaked charred oak staves. The palate picks up on a whisper of red saffron and pear that leads to rum-soaked cherries, dry tobacco leaves, old grilled cedar planks, and a drop of espresso oil with a dark chocolate underbelly. That dark chocolate vibes with the dry tobacco and dark and rummy cherries for a finish that luxuriates in a silken mouthfeel, an echo more of that fresh forest woodruff, and a soft Kentucky hug of warmth.

Bottom Line:

The top three were all very close but this was the clear winner — it wasn’t a three-way tie at all. I wasn’t 100 percent sold on this the first time I had it. This time around it was phenomenal. I wish I had more than a boot flask full as a tester.

Final Thoughts

Heaven Hill Blind
Zach Johnston

This broke my brain a little bit, especially at the end of a long week. There were just so many similar and straight-up identical flavor notes that it became a pain in the ass to find things that differentiated a lot of these.

Still, there’s only one trash bottle on this list and it was last by a country mile. 16 through nine were all perfectly fine. Eight, seven, and six were where things started to get interesting and fun. Then five through three really upped the ante. Then the second and first ranked whiskeys were just off the charts. The problem was that I didn’t get to drink them in that order. This blind test featured huge valleys right next to huge peaks and then back down again and then up and down and … you get it.

Honestly, I think I need a drink to get over this mind-bender. Thankfully, I now know which Heaven Hill bottle to reach for first.

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